Bill O’Reilly’s CBS Colleague Says Buenos Aires Was Not A ‘Combat Situation’ After Falklands War

February 22, 2015 by  
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Buenos Aires was neither a “war zone” nor a “combat situation” after Argentina surrendered to Britain in the Falklands War, says one of Bill O’Reilly’s former colleagues at CBS who was with him in the capital at the time.

“It was an ‘expense account zone,’” writes Eric Jon Engberg, a retired CBS correspondent, in a Facebook post. “We — meaning the American networks — were all in the same, modern hotel and we never saw any troops, casualties or weapons.”

On Thursday, Mother Jones accused the Fox News host of lying about having “reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands” and “survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War.”

Since then, O’Reilly has been on a tear against the “left-wing media,” calling the report “garbage” and Mother Jones editor David Corn, who broke the story along with reporter Daniel Schulman, a “despicable guttersnipe.”

O’Reilly says he never claimed to be in the Falklands, but that the riots he witnessed in Buenos Aires — 1,200 miles from the islands — constituted “combat.”

“Would you consider a riot a general combat definition?” conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked O’Reilly on his show yesterday.

“Yeah, when it’s in a war setting, of course,” O’Reilly responded.

Reports from Buenos Aires after the Falklands War show rioters breaking windows and throwing stones and sticks. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs. But there were no reported fatalities.

“The riot around the presidential palace was actually short-lived,” Engberg writes. “It consisted mostly of chanting, fist-shaking and throwing coins at the uniformed soldiers who were assembled outside the palace. I did not see any police attacks against demonstrators.”

In addition, Engberg calls into question O’Reilly’s claim that he “was out there pretty much by myself because the other CBS News correspondents were hiding in the hotel.”

“If he said such a thing it is an absolute lie,” Engberg writes. “Everyone was working in the street that night, the crews exhibiting their usual courage. O’Reilly was the one person who behaved unprofessionally and without regard for the safety of the camera crew he was leading.”

Engberg said O’Reilly ignored orders from CBS Bureau Chief Larry Doyle to keep camera lights off in order to avoid attracting attention and being injured: “According to Doyle, O’Reilly returned to the hotel in a rage over the fact that his cameraman wouldn’t turn on the lights to photograph angry crowds. Doyle defended the cameraman and chewed out O’Reilly for violating his instructions on lights.”

Corn said the revelation from the CBS veteran raises further questions about O’Reilly’s integrity.

“This account from a veteran CBS News correspondent and a former colleague of O’Reilly — who witnessed O’Reilly’s short stint in Buenos Aires at the end of the Falklands War — is additional confirmation of what we reported and raises additional questions for O’Reilly,” Corn told The Huffington Post. “Will he responsibly respond to all the questions or will he continue to rely upon invective and bombast?”

UPDATE (8:42 p.m): A Fox spokesperson responded to the allegations via email:

The O’Reilly Factor invited Eric Engberg to appear on the program this Monday and he refused. The Factor has also contacted CBS News and asked them to release the footage in question.

O’Reilly plans to address Engberg’s claims on the Howard Kurtz show tomorrow at 11 a.m EST.

Harshing Brian Williams

February 21, 2015 by  
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I don’t know about you, but I’m really feeling sorry for NBC’s Brian Williams.

Seriously, did anyone ever have any expectation of depth, truthfulness, or quality reporting from him?

Maybe I feel this way because I’m a serious news junkie and, as such, I read a lot more than watch news or commentary on the tube.

If you are a serious news addict, and consequently crave history, you should know that Brian Williams and his ilk are, in the traditional sense, actors rather than scribes.

My disdain for the nightly news started with a single lecture in a labor history class at Cornell University by a young, angry, but brilliant Marxist history professor with a big Fidel Castro beard.

He taught me that you can’t read a history book without first asking: Who wrote the history? What was the author’s education and background? What school of history did he or she belong to?

You see, the interpretation of prior renderings of history and the subsequent writing of new history are always evolving and subjected to new political and economic concepts of both the past and the immediate present.

So the writing of history is always biased and subsequently inaccurate in a subjective manner.

The same holds true with the news, particularly today, when there are so few sources of it and those sources have been captured by an international oligarchy of the super wealthy information giants and government officials who exert great control over its accuracy, its dissemination, and its interpretation.

I hate to be so super cynical, but the interpretation of our present history and events, and our news, too, is steeped in our super-fast culture of institutional lies (like our inflation and unemployment rates) and the self-serving promotion that drives an out-of-control 24/7 news cycle, our economy, our deteriorating political and criminal justice systems, and our lives, too.

I haven’t watched a network nightly newscast in decades, rejecting its unending debasing over time of excellence in television news reporting by ugly 20th-century guys like Howard K. Smith on ABC and Huntley and Brinkley on NBC and the simultaneous evolution of Barbie and Ken dolls, shallow, 21st-century network entertainment-journalism now typified by the long-legged anchors on Fox News, cute Anderson Cooper on CNN and, yes, that good-looking hunk Brian Williams on NBC News.

It’s really ugly Walter Cronkite’s fault. He led the way in making the nightly news a personal platform for rendering the news as political speech. He successfully wrote and acted the history of the era with his anti-Vietnam War and anti-Nixon views rather than just being an unbiased scribe of historical events.

Much better-looking superstars like Williams have followed in his footsteps. As an embedded reporter during the Iraq War, Williams was merely a shallow thespian looking to be an actor in a historical event rather than a historical scribe, much like Cronkite did when reporting from Vietnam.

So when an aging news rock star like Brian Williams tells a harmless buba meisah (Yiddish for a grandmotherly story of dubious truth based on rumor, gossip or stemming from a desire to impress others) about being shot at in a helicopter, should he really get suspended from reporting (and a cool $10 million) for six months and hung out to dry for falsely reporting “the news”?

In this age of lies and deception, Williams’ embellishment of his actions should have just been another newsworthy event in itself, another buba meisah of the age subject to the interpretation of historians of eras to come.

Published in Context Florida on February 19, 2015

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary ( and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, N.Y. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Wayne Barrett: What Rudy Giuliani Knows About Love

February 20, 2015 by  
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Rudy Giuliani knows a lot about love.

Beards and Armpits: The Silly Sexism of ‘The Walking Dead’

February 19, 2015 by  
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The Walking Dead, like any show, has its problems. While it is one of the most diverse shows on television, many have criticized its revolving door of people of color: killing one off before adding the next, as if having too many non-white people onscreen at one time would be too much. And while there are lots of women onscreen — including women of color: Michonne kicks ass as well as kicking the ass of stereotyped writing — there is another small thing that continues to irk me when I tune in every Sunday.

Rick, Darryl and the other dudes look fit for an apocalypse: their scruffy faces get scruffier every season, and flashbacks to the smooth-faced Sherriff Rick of Season 1 are almost shocking in their stark difference. It’s an effective plot device, really; a way of illustrating both the passage of time and the ways in which priorities/capabilities have changed. In last night’s episode, Rick finally says the title, admitting, “We are the walking dead.” And it’s true, they are. They collectively stagger down the road, zombie and living alike, both men and women: dirty, bedraggled and weather-beaten. So why then, if the dudes are forced to wander the ruins of the United States with Castaway beards, do the ladies have underarms as smooth as Baby Judith’s cheek?

It’s a small beef, I know, but one that is repeated in too many post-apocalyptic, science fiction and dystopian films to go unnoticed. BuzzFeed made a hilarious listicle last year cataloging the ridiculousness: “12 Female Characters Who Keep Shaving Despite Constant Peril.” And it is ridiculous, the notion that with death around every corner, women would still take the time to slip away to the bathroom and shave their armpits. In the last episode of Walking Dead the group couldn’t even find water. You mean to tell me the women not only shaved — but dry shaved? No. I can’t believe that. I don’t think any woman would be that desperate.

This ridiculous hairlessness is confounding considering the lengths the show goes to be convincing in other aspects of the zombie apocalypse: sickness, zombie gore, hunger, violence. It’s bizarre that a show with a scope as wide as The Walking Dead‘s can imagine many things, but women with armpit hair is not one of them.

Part of this problem is the writers: I could find reference to only three women writers in a list of over twenty credited for The Walking Dead. Much has been written about the mixed results of male writers penning female characters, and we see the results in the media we consume every day: female characters who are unrelatable and lacking in complexity…who shave their armpits during the zombie apocalypse. This is part of the reason so many — myself included — have latched on to Shonda Rhimes#TGIT shows: women! Complex women! Relatable, diverse women! It’s an oasis in a dry desert of missed marks.

But it’s not just the male writers, of course. Even many female writers wouldn’t stop and think, “Hey wait, the women should be fuzzier.” Our culture informs our media, and in a culture that both infantilizes and sexualizes women, it’s unsurprising that no one would consider the absence of body hair: we’re so used to its erasure (in advertising, in film, in television) that its absence is somewhat realistic: women don’t have body hair, we’re told. So when it’s missing — even in the most unlikely scenarios — we don’t even notice.

It’s disturbing that women in other realities (dystopian, post-apocalyptic or sci-fi) — stories of which, unfortunately, are few and far between — are subject to the same sanitization that women in our own sexist world are. In the past I’ve written about the limits of the white imagination when it comes to imagining characters of color in fictional worlds, and the same is true for the collective imagination when it comes to women: our imaginations are stunted by the -isms of our time.

Perhaps this is why there are so few stories — books and film — that tell the stories of women and people of color in worlds beyond our own. The future, it seems, belongs mostly to white men, another reflection of the values we see in our day-to-day realities. Whether the scenario is alien invasion, zombie apocalypse or government-gone-mad, the story tends to center on white men, with everyone else in their role rotating around them in their “proper place.” Hairless women. One black character killed off to be replaced by another. Would it be a stretch to point out that Glen in The Walking Dead is the least bearded of the men in the cast, a reminder of the traditional emasculation of Asian men in American media? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s something to notice.

This is why I never stop hunting for science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction that gives a glimpse at another vision of the future. Kenyan short film Pumzi is one. Upcoming sci-fi romance out of Ethiopia Crumbs is another. Anything by Nnedi Okorafor. Anything by Octavia Butler. Chang-rae Lee’s recent book On Such a Full Sea. There are others, but there are not enough.

Our sexism (and racism) is ingrained in us. It permeates the stories we tell and how we imagine the future. Many have called the apocalypse — in whatever form it arrives in — “the great equalizer.” The thing that brings all of humankind together against the thing that threatens our survival. But when I look at many of the stories we have that tell the story of our future — sci-fi or speculative — too many of them look just like the past.

So Why Are Are The Oscars Called The Oscars?

February 18, 2015 by  
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With the Academy Awards just days away, we’ve already prepped you with a nominee cheat sheet and shared our predictions. But an important question still remains: Why are the Oscars called the Oscars?

Thanks to a new video from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, you can now sound like the smartest person at your Oscars party. Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne recounts the history of the prestigious golden statuette, revealing that while the first ceremony took place in 1929, the Oscar didn’t get its name till around 1935. Although three people claim to have dubbed the award, it was apparently columnist Sidney Skolsky who got bored of the nameless, shiny gold man and gave it the moniker derived from a vaudeville joke.

Check out the video to find out other fun facts, like how winners used to have to give their awards back after the ceremony and how Walt Disney won a special honorary Oscar with seven mini ones for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

David Carr, Late New York Times Columnist, Remembered For Devotion To Journalism And Family

February 17, 2015 by  
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Hundreds of mourners gathered together on a snow-covered Tuesday morning to honor and celebrate the beloved and esteemed New York Times media columnist David Carr.

Friends, family and former colleagues of Carr, along with their dark winter coats, hats and scarves, filled each pew of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City to pay tribute to the man who inspired their careers and touched their lives.

“My dad used to always say that everything good in his life started with us,” Carr’s daughter Meagan said in front of a full but silent church. “But the truth is, so many good things in our lives and the lives of many of you here today started with my dad.”

david carr funeral

The media icon died at the age of 58 on Thursday after collapsing to the floor of the newsroom he dedicated so much of his life to. An autopsy later showed that Carr’s unexpected death was the result of complications from lung cancer, with heart disease as a contributing factor. Carr, a “champion of media” and best-selling author, who detailed his struggle with addiction in his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun, leaves behind his wife, three daughters and five siblings.

His funeral brought together Times staffers past and present, including Times’ Executive Editor Dean Baquet and CNN’s Brian Stelter.

“All of the various tributes to David over the past few days have been moving and a reminder of what a large presence he was in journalism, in the lives of our readers and in the lives of so many colleagues, especially young journalists, whose careers he nurtured,” New York Times Deputy Executive Editor Matthew Purdy told The Huffington Post following the mass. “He was a big, distinctive character and his loss is painful for all of us.”

carr funeral2

Carr’s brother, John, along with Carr’s three daughters, Erin, Meagan and Madeline, all gave remarks at the top of the ceremony.

“You all thought David was your best friend,” John Carr told the crowded church. “We all thought we were David’s favorite brother or sister.”

He went on to honor Carr’s legacy as “one of the most gifted journalists who has ever worked at The New York Times,” joking about his ragged style that was often compared to that of “a homeless person.”

“I work with the homeless — many of those who would resent that comment,” he joked, bringing about an outbreak of laughter from the room.

But above all, Carr’s greatest accomplishment in life, his brother said, was his family.

“Meagan and Erin, you saved your dad’s life,” he said to Carr’s twin daughters in the front row. “You gave it purpose. It was the three of you against the world.”

david carr new york times

His daughters each spoke one at a time about their father, recalling some of the best memories of a man they called their “biggest fan.”

“He frequently encouraged me to stop wrapping my head around things and instead wrap my arms around them,” Madeline said.

“My dad was a brilliant and passionate human being,” Erin added. “He was a curious sort who wanted to know about everything. I honor him by attempting to do the same.”

funeral carr

Carr’s wake on Monday night at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel drew some of the biggest names in media and entertainment, from former Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson to actress Lena Dunham.

The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove called the night a “celebration” of the media columnist and said a “general laughter” filled the room.

Tributes and kind words about Carr poured in following the news of his death Thursday night from other journalists and friends whose lives were impacted by the writer in some way.

“Can’t possibly find words. David Carr was brilliant, funny, generous. My heart breaks for his family+his legion of friends. Proud to be 1,” the NYT’s Bill Carter wrote.

“David Carr was equal parts sweetheart, truth-teller and ass-kicker,” New York Times Magazine’s Mark Leibovich added.

“He was a great champion of us — or maybe more like a gruff guardian angel, smoking outside the Times building, offering counsel to whomever was bold enough to approach him,” Quartz’s Jenni Avins recalled. “That will be a great part of his legacy, beyond his incredible archive. As generous as he was with us, it’s a wonder he had any time to write.”

John Carr’s remarks Tuesday morning echoed that same great sense of loss:

“We never thought David would go quietly in his nineties, but this was way, way too soon.”

False Memories: Brian Williams and David Carr

February 16, 2015 by  
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Eight years ago, renowned New York Times media critic David Carr spent two years writing a brutally honest memoir — The Night of the Gun — in which he sought to investigate, as a reporter might, the events of his own life.

One of the most poignant moments comes when Carr goes to the home of his best friend Donald, bangs on the door and breaks a window. Carr remembers that Donald came to the door and pointed a gun at him.

Decades later when Carr interviews Donald about the incident, Donald says hesitantly, “I think you mighta had it.”

Carr can’t believe it: “That can’t be true… I was never a gun guy,” he argues with Donald.

Later, he interviews another friend, Chris, who remembers that Carr asked him to go remove a gun from his house when he had to move out quickly. Watch the video here.

“If I was wrong about the gun, what else was I wrong about?” Carr asks. He wrote in The Night of the Gun:

Memories are like that. They live between synapses and between the people who hold them. Memories, even epic ones, are perishable from their very formation even in people who don’t soak their brains in mood-altering chemicals. There is only so much space on any one person’s hard drive, and old memories are prone to replacement by newer ones.

A few days before he died, Carr wrote about Brian Williams:

I wrote a book some years back about the nature of memory and the stories we tell ourselves and others. Stories tend to grow over time and, if they are told often enough, they harden into a kind of new truth for the teller. Mr. Williams has been on almost every talk show you can think of and that requires not only a different skill set — he is a gifted and funny performer — but stories in abundance.

It’s useful to note that Mr. Williams initially reported the story fundamentally as it had happened — although the soldiers on hand say he exaggerated the danger to himself even then — and over time, as he retold it, he moved into the middle of it, so that the story became something that happened to him. All those 1 percent enhancements along the way add up and can leave the teller a long way from the truth.

But was it really all thus? When memory is called to answer, it often answers back with deception. How is it that almost every warm barstool contains a hero, a star of his own epic, who is the sum of his amazing stories?” Carr wrote in his memoir.

Scientific literature is filled with stories of false memories. Many people believe that the human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and plays them back exactly as they happened. On the contrary, according to an article in Scientific American, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed, rather than played back exactly as we remember them. “The act of remembering is more akin to putting the pieces of a puzzle together than retrieving a video recording,” said eminent psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus, who gained fame when she conducted an experiment planting false memories of being a frightened child lost in a shopping mall.

I have no special respect toward celebrity news anchors like Brian Williams. They are pretend journalists — highly talented newsreaders — who read words that others put on the teleprompters. Their job is to convey the impression that they are uncovering the news. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the same article about Williams, Carr wrote about the famed news anchor’s appearance on the The Daily Show, including a very funny few minutes in August 2012:

Mr. Stewart was mocking something that had been on the NBC newscast, and Mr. Williams mentioned that sometimes when he is writing the show, he actually thinks of what Mr. Stewart will do with the same material.

“You don’t write any of that stuff,” Mr. Stewart said, laughing as he said it. “They take you out of the vegetable crisper five minutes before the show and they put you in front of something that is spelled out phonetically. I know how this goes.”

So, everyone is in on the joke. It’s all knowing winks and fake attacks on confected news read by people who are somewhat bored by what they do. It just seems less funny now.

In the 1987 prescient movie, Broadcast News, the anchor with no reporting or writing experience, played by William Hurt, gives advice to a brilliant reporter, Albert Brooks, on how to be an anchor: Sit on your coattails to give your jacket a nice line. Punch one single idea per story. And, most importantly: “You’re selling them this idea of you. You’re saying, ‘Trust me, I’m credible.’ “

Anchors have become the brand, readers, for stories that other producers and reporters uncover. The ability to convey credibility is everything.

The problem with Brian Williams is that he is a storyteller. The ability to tell a story is very important in every reporter and writer’s life. But, Williams did not have the background in reporting and writing to temper his tall tales.

On Nightly News, he had a gaggle of producers and writers who could save him from his embellishments — his memory distortions. But in all those talk shows and interviews William was on his own, caught up in his yarns. It seems NBC management loved his stories and encouraged him to woo a wider audience with his witty storytelling.

Ultimately these tragic flaws caught up with him, like a Shakespearian tragedy.

Jim Carrey Makes Brian Williams Joke On ‘SNL 40′ Red Carpet

February 15, 2015 by  
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During an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the “SNL 40″ red carpet, Jim Carrey joked about Brian Williams.

“Can I ask you a question, you guys? Where are you hiding Brian Williams? Where is he?” Carrey asked as Lauer, Tina Fey and Savannah Guthrie looked slightly uncomfortable. “I just want to say something in his defense,” Carrey continued. “If the helicopter in front of me gets hit, I’m taking the story.”

Williams was suspended for six months by NBC after embellishing a story about his time covering the war in Iraq. Watch the interaction below.


Storytelling Ability Connected Brian Williams With Viewers But Also Led To His Downfall

February 14, 2015 by  
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The story of Brian Williams is almost impossible to believe.

And that’s just if you include the parts that are real.

Texas ‘Draw the Prophet’ Contest is Shameless Muslim-Baiting

February 13, 2015 by  
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This article originally appeared on artnet News.
by Sarah Cascone


The poster advertising Draw the Prophet.
Photo: American Freedom Defense Initiative

In the wake of the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, targeted for its irreverent depictions of the prophet Muhammad, Breitbart Texas reports that a “Draw the Prophet” event, accompanied by the First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, is scheduled for May 3 in Garland, Texas. The winner takes home $10,000.

The contest is the brainchild of Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). She has been denounced as an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which categorizes the AFDI as a hate group. According to the Center, Geller is the “anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-based denunciations of Islam.”

The contest echoes Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s publication in 2005 of editorial cartoons satirizing the Prophet. The move was meant to comment on self-censorship and resulted in protests throughout the Middle East. There are differing schools of thought in Islam about whether depictions of Muhammad are forbidden (see The Secret Islamic Devotional Art That Depicts Muhammad and Are Cartoons More Powerful Than Art?).

According to the 2010 U.S. Religious Census, cited in the Texas Almanac, the Lone Star State leads American states in the size of its Muslim population, with about 422,000 in 2010.

An image announcing the contest riffs on Norman Rockwell’s most famous self-portrait, showing Muhammad painting a self-portrait and thus aiming to highlight the contrast between traditional American values and the beliefs of Islamist extremists. By enlisting Rockwell’s saccharine vision to her cause, Geller only underlines her simplistic version of America.

Draw the Prophet is just the latest of Geller’s anti-Muslim demonstrations, which include a rally protesting the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Stand by the Prophet conference, held in Garland last month in response to the Charlie Hebdo attack (see 12 Killed at Magazine Previously Attacked for Satirical Cartoons). In 2010, Geller organized a march on the site of the planned Lower Manhattan “Ground Zero Mosque” (see Proposed Mosque Near World Trade Center Reborn as a Muslim Museum).

“The beacon of freedom, the shining light on a hill, is running scared,” Geller told Breitbart Texas of the Western media’s reluctance to publish controversial images like the Charlie Hebdo cartoons (see Accused of Charlie Hebdo Censorship, AP Removes Piss Christ Image, Belgian Museum Cancels Charlie Hebdo Exhibition, Security Threats Force London’s V&A to Remove Prophet Muhammad Artwork, and Why Self-Censorship of Controversial Artwork is Wrong). “We’re holding this exhibit and cartoon contest to show how insane the world has become—with people in the free world tiptoeing in terror around supremacist thugs who actually commit murder over cartoons. If we can’t stand up for the freedom of speech, we will lose it—and with it, free society.”

No word on exactly how free speech is under threat, an especially untenable claim in view of the widespread publication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons (see #JeSuisCharlie: A Digest of Responses to the Killings at Charlie Hebdo).

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